In short, most likely the answer is yes. Most Americans over consume protein due to decades of nutritional propaganda. That’s not to say we don’t need a fair amount of protein, but individual need should be taken into consideration. One’s need for protein will differ according to lifestyle and health. For instance, an athlete will need more protein than the average person because they require more protein to build and repair connective tissue and muscle. In general, most people need 45-55 grams of protein a day. To be more specific you can use an equation to determine a more individual need: weight in LBS/2.2 x 0.5 (or 0.8 for higher body weight). It’s also important to take into consideration the health of the digestive system. Protein breakdown begins in the mouth through enzymatic digestion then in the stomach hydrochloric acid (HCl) and more enzymes continue to break down the protein. Lastly in the small intestines, enzymes break down the protein into small protein fragments (peptides) which are absorbed into the cells of the intestines. These assimilated peptides are then delivered to the liver and peripheral tissues to be used. Protein metabolism involves several steps and if there is a problem anywhere along the path you will not get everything out of that protein food. Protein is used to make RNA, DNA, hemoglobin, bone, the lens of the eye, antibodies used to fight infections, enzymes used for digestion, and hormones such as insulin and gastrin. It is also used as an energy source, production of neurotransmitters, detoxification, and in part regulates the menstrual cycle. While we need adequate protein for our individual bodies, overconsumption of protein can have its consequences. Excessive protein can have a greater risk for heart disease, osteoporosis, constipation, gout, allergies, and possibly cancer. Most excess protein is used to make glucose but if activity level is not high enough then it will be stored as fat and can contribute to weight gain.
In summary, protein consumption really boils down to personal need.
If you answer yes to these questions then you may not be eating enough protein:
- Do I have a high activity level?
- Do I have any digestive problems?
- Do I have blood sugar (high or low) problems?
- Do I have high stress?
- Do I have eye problems, especially myopia?
- Is my immune system compromised in any way?
- Is my mood an issue? Depression or Anxiety?
- Do I have menstrual cycle irregularities, especially skipped periods?
- Am I currently on a detoxification program or have trouble with detoxification in general?
If you answer yes to these questions then you may need to speak with a health practitioner and lower your protein consumption:
- Do I have gout?
- Do I have kidney problems?
- Do I have bone loss?